Once again this Philadelphia Phillies team has come through and put together yet another amazing late-reason run when it mattered most. Fans have suddenly gotten back into the game and there is a rekindled electricity at Citizens Bank Park these days. However, will their effort be enough to launch the Phillies to their sixth consecutive post-season appearance? Odds say no, that the hole they dug themselves is far too deep to climb out of, and whatever last-ditch run they make will be for naught when the final curtain closes on the 2012 regular season.
The top five reasons the Phillies will fail to rebound this season.
No, really, it doesn't. On paper the Phillies remaining schedule looks favorable. Their final 19 games are spread out against the likes of the Astros, Mets and Marlins—three teams who won’t factor into the postseason—and the Braves and Nationals, both of whom appear to have wrapped up their entrances into October. However, the Phillies only have two days off and six remaining games at Citizens Bank Park. They have played better on the road throughout much of the season, but the friendly comforts of home are always something to look forward to. And despite most of their opponents having little to play for, there may be extra enticement for division rivals to step up and knock off their nemesis, especially when it's the five-time defending champions.
Neither the Cardinals, Dodgers nor Pirates has a very daunting schedule ahead, almost splitting their remaining 19 (Pirates 20) games home and away, mostly against teams with very little to pay for. Everyone seems to have their shot to beat up on the Astros (except Los Angeles) and the Dodgers and Cardinals suit up for four games beginning tonight...someone has to win, don’t they? While each team has divisional games down the stretch, none faces an opponent that seemingly hates the Phillies as much as their entire Eastern division appears to.
Seriously. The Phillies have an out-of-this world starting rotation led by the big three, but Halladay has not been very “Halladay-like” for much of the season, including in his most recent starts. While Kyle Kendrick has been a godsend since he learned how to use his change-up effectively, his history makes it’s difficult to count on him until he shows it’s no fluke.
With unproven soft-tosser Tyler Cloyd occupying a spot in the rotation, it is imperative that everyone else pitches as well as they possibly can—something that occurred for the Phillies in 2011, but hasn't in 2012—resulting in the Phillies occupying the third spot in the division.
The Phillies have been battling injuries all season long with some of their most important players. Most are back, but have they returned too soon? Carlos Ruiz can’t play everyday, and it’s always a possibility that Ryan Howard’s or Chase Utley’s next play is their last. Halladay says his shoulder is fine, but it may take a full offseason for him to work the kinks out. Players like Kevin Frandsen and Domonic Brown, guys the team hoped (or were surprised to learn might) would help carry the load down the stretch haven’t been immune either. All teams face injuries and the next one could always be devastating, but it just feels as if the Phillies are waiting for the other shoe to drop—and end their season prematurely.
For the analytical mind, there is absolutely no logical reason to believe the Phillies will be able to pull off this incredible run. They have played so poorly throughout the season that they have no right to even be in this position. And everything, I mean everything, has to go perfectly for them to pull it off. It’s not impossible, but it's as close to it as it gets.
Up to this point, I have refused to give up on this team and this season (some have called me crazy, especially during the darkest days) and I refuse to give up on them now. Logic says it’s not possible, but a lot of what these Phillies have accomplished has “not been possible.”
Sorry Chipper, the Phillies are on the way to Atlanta to spoil your retirement party.